Friday, 28 September 2012

Day 9 Goes to Wales!

Thursday 27th September - Day 9                   Daily Mileage 500 – Total 2286

Opening the roller blinds in the bedroom this morning I had to smile to myself. It was raining yet again.

How chuffed was I that I’d gone with the well-known saying “Seize the day" yesterday.

Waking Thursday morning was a totally different experience. Up went the blind to reveal a glorious sunny autumn day. The thought went through my mind like a flash of lightning, sun’s out I’m out!

“Jeannie do you mind if I get a few Gold Post Boxes today as it’s been a while?” “Nothing in the diary as far as I can see, no you get off” came the reply I was hoping for.

My plan, to visit 4 Gold Post Boxes, well that was plan a), plan b) to visit all the Gold Post Boxes  in Wales. So with that in mind I started getting my kit out of the garage.

Macclesfield - Setting off around 9.30am after saying bye to Jeannie I took the all too familiar route down towards Macclesfield. As this was the third time I’d headed down that way since collecting the Gold Post Box photo’s. Just as well I love the route, give or take the all too busy M60 circular, the North’s very own version of the M25 car park!

Still within 40 minutes I was pulling up at the side of the first Gold Post Box of the day. Pulling up behind a huge Jaguar car in the disabled bay which was exactly where I need to be to take a good photo I was pleased to see the owner returning. I waited for him to pull away, and waited, and waited! How long does it take to get in a car, put a seat belt on, start and drive away? “Come on get a bloody move on for goodness sake” I screamed at him (In my mind, in my mind – as Eddie Izzard would say). Eventually he moved forward and inch. Needless to say I waited some more still the wait was well worth while.

Market Street Macclesfield
Sarah Storey - Gold medal Cycling Road: Women's Individual C 4-5 Road Race

Bagnall - As today was all about collecting the last few local Gold Post Boxes I’ll not prattle on too much (that makes a change I can hear you all say, sighing with relief). All I want to say is the ride was great, the weather perfect at 12 degrees no less and Bagnall Village is simply breath taking so much so I took a photo of the local pub. I was gutted it wasn’t open or I would have gone in for a coffee. Still photos taken I headed out towards the edge of the village to a familiar vibrating sound which really gets on my nerves. The damned Touratech screen mount had vibrated loose again. This is about the 5th time this has happened prompting a call to Touratech in Wales. Graeme was very helpful and had not come across this problem before, “light thread lock or a couple of nylock nuts will do the trick”, my thoughts entirely.

Pulling over I removed the screen, tightened the bolts and reassembled the the screen. I’d put my tool roll in the top box just in case as I’ve been adding a few new part. Just as well really, just a shame it was a reoccurring problem and not a new one. The old chap dragging a large branch and walking his dog made me laugh with his throw away comment “I thought those things only came out when it wasn’t raining?” “Not this one my dear sir” I replied with a rather large grin on my face.

School Road Bagnall
Lee Pearson - Gold medal Equestrian: Mixed Individual Championship Test - Grade IbG

Re-visit already booked for a pub lunch

Telford - The ride down was painless, Gold Post Box found and photographed, brief hello from a very nice old lady waiting to post her letter and I was off to face my demon’s.

Arleston Lane Telford
Mickey Bushell - Gold medal Athletics: Men's 100m - T53 

Alcester - Having missed this Gold Post Box on the trip to Sark I was keen to find get it boxed off. I could not believe it when, as I read the sign post “Alcester 1 Mile” and my Garmin 660 said 5.7 miles I knew there was something not right. Riding past the  village on the A543 I just spotted the Checkpoint I’d added to Garmin to mark the location. Doing a left into the bottom of the village with Mrs Garmin screaming in my ear “Recalculating” I rode straight into the middle of a stunning little village scene. I was also pleased when a very helpful dapper young chap, in his flash waist coat and suit trousers, offered to take my photo on Mr T. At last I had Alcester in the bag. I dropped Jeannie a text to say all 4 were done and dusted. I felt fine and was going to Wales.

High Street Alcester
Nick Skelton - Gold medal Equestrian - Team Jumping 

Newton -Heading towards Alcester I’d had to suffer theM6 40MPH, variable speed signs, then 60mph then 50mph. “I wish they’d make the bloody minds up” was the thought going through my head when all of a sudden it poured it down. The rain was torrential, cars drove at 20 mph for about 10 minutes and I was on the verge of sacking Wales all together and returning another day but as it only lasted for 15 minutes, as did my negative thoughts.

The roads down through Wales are amazing, it’s as if they were built by bikers for bikers. The curves are so smooth, twisting here there and everywhere, they are just brilliant. What made them all the more special was the fact Mr T’s new Ohlins rear suspension is amazing. It is like riding a totally different bike. The only thing it needs now is an R1 engine. Other than feeling a little higher at the rear end  the whole set up just instills confidence. One word describes how it feels, phenomenal!

Church Street Newton
Charlotte Dujardin - Gold medal Equestrian Individual Dressage 

Cardiff - Well as my plan was now to get Wales “Boxed off” I made good progress over to Cardiff where the Gold Post Box is sat directly opposite the castle with a bus stop directly in front of it meaning no parked cars. Photo taken as quick as you like with te castle in the background and I was off to my next destination.

Castle Street Cardiff
Geraint Thomas - Gold medal Men's Team Pusuit 

Bridgend - It’s a short 21 mile ride from Cardiff to Bridgend most of which is on the M4. It took no time at all to get there and knowing the area a little as my sister Jaqui used to live there for a while, I rode straight to the Gold Post Box without any issue.

Gentle Way Bridgend
Aled Davies - Gold Medal Athletics: Field Men’s Discus – F42 

Swansea - Now I’ve never been to Swansea but if I ever get the chance to return I will as it’s a stunning place, very busy but with a great road straight into town. The only negative I found was that with a bladder so full I could feel my tonsils floating, the Shell garage I chose to fill up at must be the only one in Swansea with toilets that are “out of order”! I almost wet myself and not with laughter, I can tell you. Still there are some good lay-bys heading out of town, he says with yet another grin on his face.

Trawler Road Swansea
Ellie Simmonds - Gold Medal Swimming: Women’s 200m Individual Medley SM6 final

Now you may well wonder at this point as to why I’m not waxing lyrical about how beautiful the South coast of Wales is and how stunning the yachts all looked at the back of the Gold Post box in Swansea harbour are. The reason is as with the ride this post could take anything from 10 minutes to 10 hours to read because as I wanted to “Bag Wales” the ride turned into something of a mammoth task.

The scenery is simply breathtaking

Tredgar - Sadly this was the first Gold Post Box of the day that was nowhere near were the checkpoint was on my Garmin 660. Riding around the village for the second time I stopped at the roundabout to ask an old dear walking her dog “Are you blind, it’s up there near the bus stop” pointing where I’d just come from. Heading back for the third time I spotted it, just behind a couple of youths racing a motorised scooter up and down the path in front of it. Getting Mr T to the side of the box took a little doing  but with a few odd looks from the local’s at the bus stop I was happy to get on my way as the day was rapidly turning into a bit of a challenge. One more Gold Post Boxes to do then I’d be heading home for something to eat. Something I’d forgotten to do all day!

Commercial Street Tredegar
Mark Colbourne - Gold medal C1 3km individual pursuit 

 Hay-on-Wye - Just when I thought the day could not get any better it did with a wonderful ride straight through the centre of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Now if you’ve never ridden through this part of the world all I can say is “Get your bike out and get over there” It is one of the most stunningly beautiful, technically demanding rides you will ever have. Throw in a few dozen “Kamicazi” sheep who instinctively run in front of you just when you think they are going to go the other way, it amazes me how few get squashed. That aside the roads and view just finished the day off perfectly for me.

Brecon Beacons National Park
Biker Heaven

With a little help form a nice old chap I found the Gold Post Box which I’d riden past on my way the checkpoint location (another one wrong). The young couple with the tiny puppies in the hand were astounded when I answered their question “Have you seen any more of these Gold Post boxes” Still the nice young chap took a cracking picture of me with that look of “Thank goodness there done” on my face. More commonly known as a smile to folks that do not know me.

Church Street Hay on Wye
Josie Pearson - Gold medal Athletics: Womens Discus

Day Nine - 10 Gold Post Boxes 

With 45 Gold Post Boxes to my name and the discovery that there are 102 in the UK and 3 in Ireland (I’m frantically trying to find the missing 5 – 2 of which I’ve found now) I have my work cut out for me. Setting a time limit of 22 days may be my undoing but we will see.

My next adventure starts Sunday at 1.00am with a trip to London where I will meet up with best friend of too many years to mention Ron (Roland to everyone else) I can’t wait. The ride down will start at 1.00am and take in about 8 – 10 Gold Post Boxes on route to “The Smoke”.

Breakfast at the Ace Café at 9.00am will be followed by a ride around the 12 Gold Post Boxes within the M25 and hopefully a few of the ones just outside the M25 too.

Monday is another early’ish start as I’m meeting Bruce of fame for a photo at the Westminster Gold Post box at 8.00am. Then I’ll be waving Bruce off from the cenotaph at 9.30am as he heads off “Around the World” on his mammoth adventure taking up to two years. What amazes me the most is Bruce’s choice of bike a bloody Suzuki GSXR1000 of all things.

“I bet you’ll be wanting to swap bike on Monday morning Bruce, you watch!”

Then it’s a steady ride back “Up’t North”  and yes you guessed it, Photographing Gold Post Boxes all the way……………… Happy travels #GoldBoxJourney’s

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Mr T just got a whole lot more “Super”

Well rain as certainly “stopped play” for the last few days and so I thought I’d best get the fuel rack and water bottle rack fitted to the panniers. As ever though, once I get started in the garage I tend to do all those little jobs in one go. So with the waterproof hard wired iPhone charger in one hand and the “Bullet” brake & indicator lights in the other I headed into the garage.

Fitting the two racks was an absolute breeze and thinking about it I’ve no idea why they have been sat on the bench since coming back from the Horizons Unlimited meeting held in Belper back at the beginning of July. Still there fitted now and look quite the part with the red straps I bought on eBay.
 Water anyone?

and no more "pushing" Mr T
Water bottles & 2 Litre Fuel Can & Racks
cutesy of Stahlkoffer 

Next it was time to take the off-side front panels off so I could wire in the iPhone charger. Finding somewhere to mount the case itself proved a little difficult due to beginning to get a little “busy” up front. However after offering the case up to various places there was only one place worth considering, the off-side wind deflector.

Cutting the fuse off and wiring the charger directly into the Fuzeblock saves so much time. The voltage control box has an on-off switch which I had to test to see if it remained on when the ignition was switched on and off. Luckily for me it stays on and so I just put the 2 amp fuse into put the “switched” side. Job done! Now when I switch on the ignition the charger is live and goes off when I switch the ignition off. This also meant that I could mount the switch box way down at in the tool storage area where the Zumo 660 wiring lives.

The amazing Fuzeblock

On-off Switched stowed away neatly

Hard Wired iPhone Charger
(no more silent rides for me hey Jeannie) 

That done it was time to remove both seats and the rear seat tray which is a pain as it means removing the handrail/pannier bolts. Now let me say right now, “I am not electrically minded at all and when I saw the three way water proof connectors I was not impressed”!

Three down one to go.... bliss, Not!

Still if a job is worth doing it’s worth doing right and with that in mind I set about drilling the panniers yet again.  That’s 4 holes for the racks two holes for the lights and one hole for the wiring. Having used “dowty” washers for the racks and sealing the back of the lights with a little washer I’m happy they will not leak unless submerged, by which time wet pannier contents will be the least of my worries.

Under the rear seat tray the wiring is pretty self-explanatory with the indicator lights being black and yellow. Finding the right brake light wire was a matter of cutting off some of the shrink wrap and exposing three wires black, blue and yellow. If your planning on doing the same mod you need the yellow wire not the blue! “Don’t ask”.
How fiddly?
Very, springs to mind

Still worth doing right though

Don't you think?

Having splice into the yellow wires using the correct clips I then connected all four earth wires and connected them to the earth connector I had just cut off the iPhone charger wiring loom. All the lights worked a dream so I set about mounting them all into the panniers but one at a time as I had to cut the cable, earth lead disconnected and ignition off first of cause.

Fitting the fiddly little connectors was an absolute pain for yours truly and I’m not going to drag this write up out with all the ins and outs. To give you an idea, I started the wiring at 3.00pm and finally started to reassemble Mr T at 6.35pm. Electrics is not my favourite job but I’m pleased to say everything worked OK and here’s a short video Ben & I made last night.


Yamaha Super Tenere XT1200Z
Mr T gets a few more goodies

Waking up to yet more torrential rain this morning did not impress me one jot as I was due at Kais over in Atherton for 9.00am. 

The ride over was interesting to say the least as the M62/M60 was at a standstill that was after I’d already passed a three car prang on the slip road out of Rochdale leading to the M62.

The M61 was a little better but one thing I did notice the “exhaust sniffers” as I lovingly call tailgaters soon backed off when I touched the brakes. So the one question I had been asking myself, “was it worth 3 hours’ work fitting the additional lights” was well and truly answered with a resounding “Yes”!

Arriving at Kais at 8.45am I had a few minute wait so made a short video for Bruce’s TeaPotOne promo video. By the time the lads arrived I was ready for a coffee which was on the counter within minutes. I removed my panniers and put them in the shop front and George took Mr T into the workshop to and got to work.

All the very best Bruce
Have a fantastic journey

After a good look at all the signed photo’s on the wall you are left with no doubt Kais know their stuff when it comes to suspension. With so many well know racers both on the track and in the motocross world thanking them for all the help and support  it’s reassuring to know when it comes to suspension, especially Ohlins, they have all bases well and truly covered.

How sexy is the contents of this cabinet?
Mmmmmm....very !!!

I first came across Kais when I was looking to have Trinity’s Ohlins rear shock absorber refurbished. Nick did an absolutely brilliant job so much so that I took the front forks in to have them refurbished too, only for him to discover they were bent. Just as well I had a second set sat in the garage. I’ve not stopped singing their praises since so when it came to getting Mr T fitted out there was only one number I needed, Kais. As it happens it was still in my phone, now that’s customer loyalty if ever I heard it.

Out with the "not-so" old shocker

One word........ Ohlins!

In with the new..... bring on the good times! 

Still no drama’s like that today. It was out with the old and in with the new and by 11.00 am I was suited and booted  and putting the panniers back onto Mr T. That was after watching the whole of the 2011 Isle of Man TT race on DVD. I thanked George for doing a great job and after a quick demo of the new lights, which he was impressed with by the way, I said good bye and headed off into the rain once more. I was tempted to pop down the M6 and grab a couple of Gold Post Boxes photo’s until I realised how bad the rain was decided against it.

Riding home in the yet more of the wet stuff was certainly not the best conditions  in which to see if Mr T’s new Ohlins unit was any different but I could tell straight away. It is! The cornering felt more controlled, bumps in the road just vanished and maybe it is just wishful thinking but I feel safer and at the end of the day that is my most singularly important priority. Oh and did I mention It looks simply amazing too .........

Once again can I just pass on a
Massive Thank You to All the Guys at
TEL: +44 (0)1942 896366   

Monday, 17 September 2012

Day 7&8 Destination Sark!

Thursday 13th September - Day 7                  Daily Mileage 316 – Total 1433

Actually I travelled a further 246 miles to Guernsey plus 9 miles on to Sark bringing the round trip by sea to an impressive 510 miles. Add that to the 669 I rode on Mr T the grand total comes to 1179 miles. Not shabby by any means in a cool 37 & a half hours. No wonder it’s taken me three days to sort my head out sufficiently to put pen to paper. 

Looking at the map I figured I could visit 8 Gold Post Boxes on the ride down to Poole before catching the ferry to Guernsey & then on to Sark for that elusive Gold Post Box to celebrate Carl Hester’s Gold Medal win in the Equestrian Team Dressage. So with my £30 return ticket to Guernsey booked. Parking all sorted thanks’ to Dave Avery kind offer, taxi booked for 7.00am to take me down to the port all I needed to do was not have a drink on our Wednesday night out, great!

Still if a jobs worth doing its worth doing right as they say, still not sure who “they” are but you get my drift. Arriving home at a little after 11.00pm I started to get myself ready for my midnight departure so as to only use two of my 22 day allocation. 

Stratford-upon-Avon. Jeannie stayed up to wave me off which was nice. Rolling off down the drive as quietly as possible so as not to disturb anyone I headed into town to fill up at ASDA as it’s a self-service pay at the pump, meaning no getting off Mr T. The ride down to Stratford-upon-Avon was great, the roads clear of anything other than trucks. M62, M60, M62, M6, M42, M40 and finally A439 straight into the town centre. Riding very slowly through the town centre I soon spotted the twin boxes on the other side of the street. As the road is split by a path it was a quick nip to the mini roundabout and back to take the picture. That done I was tempted to just ride over the path but with a long night ahead thought better of it and went round. Just as well really as there was a police man in his car parked up just down the road & he’d was watching what I’d been doing the whole time. Well that was number one in the bag, onwards and southwards Raymondo.

Bridge Street Stratford upon Avon
James Roe - Gold medal Rowing: Mixed Coxed Four (LTAMix4+)

Alcester. This is where the riding would become very interesting as from Stratford-upon-Avon all the way into Poole I would be riding purely on A & B roads. Something I was really looking forward to doing, even at night. There was not a single vehicle of any kind on the road to Alcester. Arriving at the coordinates I’d taken from Wikipedia I rode down High Street to find the post box was red! After riding up and down the street for 5 minutes and watching my arrival time diminish from 6.35am to 6.40am then 6.45am. I knew something was wrong but what? There was not a soul in sight in this sleepy village of what I thought was Alcester. No time to waste I photographed the red box and the post office so I could check later.

Wrong Box Raymondo
Try again! 

Cheltenham. Although the ride from Stratford to Alcester had only been just over 8 miles I’d lost 15 valuable minutes and worse still not photographed the Gold Post Box. I was gutted. Cheltenham was 27 miles away and took a good 40 minutes to get there due to it being pitch black on very nice twisty A46. As soon as I arrived in though the Garmin 660 started to route me to my next stop leaving me slap bang in the centre of town. Now one good thing I’ve realised right then was the town centre is closed off to traffic during the day but not at night. Just as well as I would never have been able to find the twin Gold Post Boxes so quickly. Plus I’d like to thank the two slightly inebriated chaps who tried there hardest to introduce me to two Olympic Competitors who were refusing to take their heads away from the cash machine. Nice try chaps and thank you for the directions, I found the twin square Gold Post Boxes took the photo and was away in minutes.

Upper High Street Cheltenham
Alex Gregory - Gold medal Men's Four Rowing

Ampney St Peter. Now as far as roads go I have just got to say, the A416 is a great stretch of road. Not a single car in sight and a steady 50mph dropping to 30 here and there I was in Ampney St Peter without a problem. Until I arrived that was, where is the Gold Post Box? Riding down a dead end lane to a few very nice houses all of which lit up like the Houses of Parliament as I rode past I was treated to a fantastic display of beautiful British architecture but no Gold Post Box. That was until I turned Mr T around to head back and just caught the glint of something in the wall tucked back from the path. There is was most possibly the country’s smallest Gold Post Box. Photo taken and I slipped away as quietly as I could, brilliant.

Ampney St Peter Gloucestershire
Laura Bechtolsheimer - Gold medal Equestrian Team Dressage

Stroud. The weather was being kind to me by not raining, my Gerbing Heated Jacket was taking care of the 8 degrees centigrade temperature. The A419 is brilliant, loads of twists and turns to keep both mind and body alert. It’s a shame its only 17 miles point to point but fun all the same. The twin Gold Post Boxes were a doddle to spot and within minutes I was off again.

Old Market Stroud
Pete Reed - Nailsworth - Gold medal Men's Four Rowing

Bradford-on-Avon. 30 miles down the A46 just clipping the back of Bath then straight down into the village of Bradford-on-Avon which is an absolutely stunningly beautiful village. Finding the Gold Post Box turned into a little challenge with me passing it on my first ride in as the coordinates were wrong, again! Still after a frantic double take and a ride through the Shambles I found it and photo taken was off to my penultimate Gold Post Box.

The Shambles Bradford-on-Avon
Ed McKeever - Gold Medal Men’s Canoe Sprint Kayak Single 200m

Sherborne. Now I did mention that I’d not be seeing a motorway all the way South from Stratford-upon-Avon to Poole didn’t I? Well from Bradford-on-Avon to Sherborne I touch one A road, in fact it was 98% B roads  & back road at best and it was fantastic. Heading due South through a tiny village called Wingfield, past Rode, touching the A36 for all of 100 yards then it was village hopping again. The riding was brilliant the temperature had increased to 11 degrees centigrade making life very cosy indeed. Within the hour I was pulling up on Cheap Street in Sherborne to take the photo.

Cheap Street Sherborne
Peter Wilson - Gold medal Shooting Men's Double Trap

Now I should have been heading due South to the other side of Weymouth but sadly time was against me and without realising the Garmin 660 had re-routed me towards my parking destination in Pool at Dave’s. What I’ve not mentioned is the fact that although I’ve increased the size of Mr T ‘s Petrol tank to extend our traveling range to well over 350 miles I’d been acutely aware of the total lack of petrol stations on for the last 3 hours. Now there is a 2 litre backup can and rack sat on my bench in the garage for such occasions, fat load of use it was sat up there! I’d been on reserve now for a good while but Poole was only another 37 miles away. The longest 37 miles I have ever travelled by the way. Just 3.7 miles from Dave’s & with Mr T’s petrol gauge showing 59.7 miles on reserve the inevitable happened!

Drifting to a standstill on a very busy A35 I got off, laughed and started pushing Mr T towards Poole. Now I can here you all laughing your socks off as you read this and to be honest I deserve it but I just didn’t care it was 6.35am I had 25 minutes to catch my taxi to ensure I checked in for the 8.30am ferry to Guernsey and nothing was going to stop me making it. That is till the road started to go up hill and the sweat started to trickle down the back of my neck some 300 yards later.

First biker to pass me stopped. Mark you are “The Man” and he was on a Yamaha Genesis.

“What’s to do can I help” came the question.

“I’ve run out of petrol” I said ashamedly and almost cracking up at the thought of writing this up.

“The nearest petrol station is about a mile the other way”

“Typical I must have just missed it when I turned left” It was literally 300 yards in the opposite direction.

“I’ll nip home and get the car and fetch you some”

“You are an absolute life saver thank you so much. Do you want some cash?”

“Na, see you in a few minutes” and with that my “Knight in Shining leather jacket & jeans” was off like a rat up a drainpipe. Shit could that Genesis move.

I carried on pushing to the junction and stopped at the beginning of the barriers. I was there all of 3 minutes when biker number two stopped and offered assistance followed 5 minutes later by biker number 3.

Poole can I say here and now you have the best bunch of “bikers” I have ever met and I want to thank both the guys who stopped you were brilliant. Whilst I waited I called and delayed my taxi by 15 minutes and got changed out of my Dainese riding suit and put on my Kevlar Combat Jeans and Shoie Jacket ready for the trip to the Sark.

Mark was true to his word returning 10 minutes later with a brand new 5 Litre can of fuel which I dually used to top up, paid Mark for the fuel and the can and gave him the can back as a thank you.

Half a mile down the road I spotted a petrol station off to my right on the roundabout so did a full circle and filled Mr T up with 26.5 litres of petrol ready for my return trip (note to self, fit the spare can to panniers).

Mr T parked up on Dave’s drive at the side of the trailer and as close as I could get it in accordance with his instructions, I only had a 5 minute wait before the taxi driver picked me up and whisked me away to the ferry. 

Now I’m not a great fan of sea crossings but when the sun is out, the sea is like a duck pond and feeling as tired as I was the crossing just drifted away. I really nice cup of coffee and a snooze set me up for what can only be described as sheer lucky draw. The captain woke me with his announcement that there would be a slight delay as they had to enter the port very slowly as it was the Guernsey Air Show today! Bonus. I’ve heard of being a lucky get but never been one until now. The show was brilliant, the harbour area was buzzing and I got quite a few nice pictures of a Lancaster escorted by a Spitfire.

Not bad for a little Lumix Camera

Legging it back to the Sark Ferry after running across Guernsey port to buy a ticket I had quite a dab on when I settled down for the crossing sitting with my back against the cabin on the deck. Still I got another 20 minutes shut eye and a few more nice pictures. 

St Peter's Port - Guernsey

Sark is breath-taking, it’s as simple as that. Small, clean, compact, everything you want is in “The Ave” from posh hotel at one end to the post office with the one and only Gold Post Box at the other. My plan was to run up the hill, as my Dad had told me it was a good 8 minute walk as he’d been to the island diving. He was right, trouble was the post office is at the far end of the “The Ave”. I got a couple of visitors who were also taking a picture of the Gold Post Box to take a couple of pictures of me with the box, I then started rushing back to the port and thought, STOP! What the hell are you doing, Sark is just too beautiful to rush and so settle in for the 3 hour stay until the 4.00pm return ferry came. Best decision of the trip. Here’s a few pictures of this stunning island called Sark.

The Ave Sark
Carl Hester - Gold medal Equestrian Team Dressage

The Ave - Sark

Falkirk cast cannon cast between 1795 - 1798
Mounted in 1989

Toast Rack anyone?

Day Seven - 7 Gold Post Boxes

Friday 14th September   Day 8                           Daily Mileage 353 – Total 1786

Arriving back in Poole at 12.50am I found myself waiting for a taxi to arrive having been advised in the morning by the taxi driver there would be a few taxis at the rank. Wrong there was one and it was taken by a chap heading to Dorset! I Think the taxi driver almost thought he had won the lottery. I was charged £9.80 in the morning a £14.20 at night for the same trip. Not impressed at all!

Getting changed back into my Dainese gear at the side of the bike at 1.00am in the morning having had half an hours sleep on the dock and 2 hours on the ferry aided by a very tasty Ribeye Steak Diane before setting off back. I was all set for a good ride home via 2 more Gold Post Boxes on the South coast just 23 miles away.

Lymington. The Garmin told me I would be back in Rochdale for 6.35am perfect for starting to get Lilie Rose ready for school at 7.30am my usual start time. The ride was nice and steady tracking the South coast all the way, passing Bournemouth International Airport along the way. Heading though Poole I was soon onto a nice bit of dual carriageway, the first and last for the next 20 miles. I found the post box in Lymington straight away as its right at the side of the road not tucked away like so many have been on this journey. I plumbed in my next destination…..

High Street Lymington
Ben Ainsley - Gold medal Men's Finn Sailing
UPDATE: Gutted to Discover that this is a FAKE!
 No it is not for real, it was fly-painted by a local 

Hamble. Only 25 miles on but it was going to take 45 minutes. The ride was quick and easy until I inadvertently rode over the Itchen Toll Bridge. I now need to pass on yet another massive thank you to the kind toll bridge guy who paid my 20p toll as I had not got a single penny on me. Thank you very much and yes I know “I owe you 20p, Ok I know”. Picture taken, and back onto Mr T I plugged my head set back in. I was still bang on track 6.39am I set off and then I heard it.

High Street Hamble
Dani King - Gold medal Women's Team Pursuit

Crackling, distorted, and only in my right ear! Damn, I’d bent one of the prongs in the connection cable. It sounded horrendous! Still I was off home thinking the nice run up the A34 would be a dream and with a little luck I could also photograph the Gold Post Box in Oxford. Fat chance. A34 closed at M4………………

Tiredness was just starting to creep in but when you’re at “work” at 7.30am you have no option other than to press on. As soon as I got to the A34/M4 junction I got my head down and rode straight to the M25 and the up the M40 watching my arrival time change from 6.36am to 7.23am as I took the decision to stick to the motorway. By the time I got to the M42 I was suffering, not with any pain but just tiredness. I stopped for fuel and bought another iPhone charger as my mobile was flat. Charging the mobile as I headed around Birmingham I made one final stop at Keil Services on the M6 to text Jeannie and let her know it was going to be close but I would be back in time to take care of Lilie Rose. I had a 5 minute nap on the grass at the side of Mr T and woke refreshed and with the sun rising.

The last leg home and the heavens opened waking me up good and proper. Bathing Lilie Rose whilst still in my bike gear was not what I had planned but Jeannie had Ben to sort out and take to school, such is the slick system we have running at home.

I’m happy to say after a mammoth 1179 mile round trip in 37 and a half hours. Sark is in the Bag!

Day Eight - 2 Gold Post Boxes

Next stop, Wales. Happy travelling all you #GoldBoxJourney’s

PS. Star-Com Cable has been replaced. I’ve still to fit spare fuel can rack but that will happen soon and I now need to take the front end off again to replace another blown side light. Hay, Ho the joys of biking.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Day 6 Continues with Jeannie

“I can’t believe this, it’s bloody tipping it down!” were the first words out of my mouth on Tuesday morning.

The rain was bouncing off the conservatory roof directly under our bedroom window, amplified by the glass it sounded like a tropical thunder storm. As it happens it was just a light shower, nothing to worry about for a weather hardened “ biker boy” like me. Still it always puts a downer on proceedings, especially when you’ve promised to take your dear wife with you on your next Gold Post Box expedition. My plan was to “mop up” the few new Gold Post Boxes that had recently been painted around Manchester.

Luckily for us by the time Lilie Rose & Ben where ready for school  the sun was starting to show through the grey clouds and the rain was down to almost nothing. Dry enough in fact for Ben & I to walk up to school or so we thought. As soon as we were at the top of the road it came down again, still nothing like a cool September shower to get you moving. We ran the rest of the way to school.

“Love You” Ben said followed with a kiss

“Love you too sweetheart” I replied instinctively enjoying every moment of Ben’s affection. “Enjoy it while it lasts Raymondo, you never know when it will dry up” Mind, I thought to myself. Knowing Ben as I do I know it will never “dry up”.

I arrived back home rather damp around the edges but at least  the sun was  out.  Jeannie was planning on going shopping but as soon as she saw the weather change it was a no brainer.

“Right are we going then?”  came the question from the other room
“Yes we can do, thought you were off shopping?”
“It can wait!”

Within half an hour we were pulling off the drive heading for our the “Storey Family Gold Run”

4  Gold Post Boxes, 3 for Sarah (more to follow on Sarah’s number 4) & one for hubby Barney. How amazing is that? Plus a quick nip over to Leigh to photograph Heather Frederiksen’s Gold Post Box.

Tuesday 11th September - Day 6                    Daily Mileage 184 – Total 1117

Manchester. Heading around Manchester on the M60 as opposed to last time riding straight through the centre proved to be a bit quicker and easier but very boring. Not really what I wanted for Jeannie on her first #GoldBoxJourney as they call it on Twitter. Still I was pleased when I heard Jeannie shout out with just a touch of excitement

“Look it’s over there in the wall!”

She’d spotted Barneys Gold Post Box in the wall at the side of Disley Post Office.

“Brilliant, I can’t  do a U-turn here and the sat nav is telling me to carry on. I must have put Sarah’s Gold Post Box in by mistake”

“It’s OK we can pick it up on the way back”

Pulling Up at The White Lion Pub on Buxton Road I the wet paint sign and the three cones had gone. It was actually dry this time.

“Right time to “bag” your first Gold Post Box, Sarah Storey’s”

Off I climbed and stood in the road to get a cracking photo of J on the bike.

“Right let’s get back to the post office and get that one”

Jeannie "Bag's" her first Gold Post Box
Sarah Storey Gold medal Women's Cycling: Track C5 Pursuit 

Pulling up in the parking bay in front of the post office there was a Refuse collection truck slap bang in front of the Gold Post Box. After 3 failed attempts to get the drivers attention. As he was busy playing on his mobile phone, (they must have been on a break- as his two co-workers were tucking into 11’s. in the cab). The driver jumped out to ask what was  wrong. I explained what we were doing and could we swap place, and like a true gentleman he did just that.

Once we’d sorted that out the next thing was to get a good photo. Lo and behold there were two elderly gentlemen one with a cracking camera who were happy to oblige. They had been trying to ask the refuse truck driver if he knew where the other Gold Post Box was as he climbed back in the cab after speaking to us.

So here’s a great big thank you to the nice chap who took a cracking photo of Jeannie & I in front of Barney Storeys Gold Post Box.

Market Street Disley
Barney Storey
Gold medal Cycling Track: Men's Individual B 1km Time Trial 

Now if you’re in the area, can I just let you into a secret. The ride between Sarah’s and Barney’s Gold Post Boxes is .3 of a mile. Sarah’s next Gold Post Box is just 5.3 miles down the road but here’s the thing it is the most amazing 5 miles I have ridden to date. Beautiful is not a good enough word to describe the stunning little, single track in places, called Middlewood Road. The road runs straight through the centre of a wood and Davenport Golf Course. It is a brilliant little stretch of road, over cobbles in places, over a single gated railway track through woodland and then into the stunningly beautiful village of Poynton.
Finding the Gold Post Box in the middle of the village without a sat nav would have been a nightmare but with the powers of modern technology we had no such issues.

A quick thank you to the young chap heading back to school or college for taking the all-important photo, even after your friend had refused due to being soaked to the skin in his t-shirt. Obviously the plastic bag on his head hadn’t done its job!

Yew Tree Lane Poynton 
Sarah Storey
Gold Medal Cycling Track: Women's Individual C4-5 500m Time Trial

Next stop, Eccles. Here’s me praising said sat nav when it takes us all the way around Manchester on the M60 adding 5 miles to the route. Then at the exact moment it needs to point me in the right direction on the roundabout, decides to sulk & promptly freezes, great! Luckily I had a good idea which exit to take and within 2 minutes we were pulling up at the side of Sarah’s third Gold Post Box (Yes I know she won 4 Gold’s just bear with me) to get a quick photo.

I’d like to thank the chap sat in his car watching me take the picture and valiantly getting out to take a picture of the two of us, but he didn’t so I won’t bother!

Eccles Old Road Eccles 
Sarah Storey Gold medal Cycling Track: Women's Individual C5 Pursuit

It was at this point that Jeannie fessed up that she was soaked to the bone, well to be 100% accurate, she had a wet backside. So decision time it was 11 miles up the road to Leigh or 20 miles straight home. Leigh won. 

Now talk about a nightmare. The ride across the Great East Lanc’s Road was a doddle. Zigzagging through Leigh’s side streets was horrendous both into and out of the town. It was like a mini American style grid with constantly changing traffic priorities. One word, bonkers. Still Heathers Gold Post Box stands proud even if it is on the other side of the street to the co-ordinates on a particular site who will remain nameless for reasons that will become clear very soon.

Market Place Leigh
Heather Frederiksen Gold Medal Swimming: Women's 100m Backstroke, S8

“Right that’s the last photo taken for this morning, what now?”

“Home please, it’s been great but I should have bought those new waterproof trousers last week in Fleetwood Yamaha”

“OK, I’ll drop you off and head over to Leeds and Skipton for the last two of the day”

Heading back across the East Lancs I shouted over to see if Jeannie fancied lunch out at the Wine Press at the side of Hollingworth Lake.

“That would be nice” came the positive reply.

I’d forgotten to mention as we rode away from Barneys Gold Post Box for some strange reason we lost com’s and so the rest of the ride had been done with just one way  communication. J could hear me  but I could not hear her, “Bliss” you may say but no fun at all for J listening to me berate all the mobile phone users, the drivers that pullback in front of you so close you can smell there fag smoke, the strange folk who just sit at traffic lights way after they have turned green because they are simply in a world of their own.

Don’t you just love riding Raymondo? 

Lunch was very nice thank you, Whitebait starter for me Smoked Salmon for Jeannie.

Cheeseburger with Bacon and chunky fries for me, Mushroom Risotto for Jeannie.

Cola, Diet Tonic & a Coffee, “that’ll be £35 please………………….. and a bloated feeling for half an hour. Bliss.

Leeds. A quick pit stop at home to drop Jeannie off after “bagging” her first 5 Gold Post Boxes and getting her #GoldBoxJourney off to a flying start. I was off over to Rawdon on the outskirts of Leeds. A little deja vu crept in as the Gold Post Box is located 1 mile up the road from Horsforth where I had visited last week. Still I was just about to clear all the local Gold Post Boxes or so I thought. It only took just over half an hour to get there as the M62 car park was clear for the first time in months, result. Mind there are quite a few night closures planned so beware travellers!

Town Street Rawdon
David Stone Gold medal Cycling: Mixed T 1-2 Road Race

Skipton. As I was alone there was no reason to find someone to take the photo so within 2 minutes of arriving at David Stones Gold Post Box I was off again. Mind it was in a really nice location on the corner of the street right at the side of the street name sign. Whereas Danielle Brown’s Gold Post Box is slap bang in the middle of town. As look would have it there was a lady in a BMW X5 parked at the front of the taxi rank waiting for her little children to post a couple of post cards in the Gold Post Box so I quickly pulled up in front of her and jumped off, took the photo and was back on Mr T in a flash. Mission accomplished!

Swadford Street Skipton
Danielle Brown Gold medal Archery: Women's Individual Compound - Open

The ride home was very enjoyable as I took the back roads over to Accrington to call in at Winfields as I knew that have a café with a few Motorbikes on display. Plus I’ve been after buying a Leatherman Wave Multi Tool for a while & I know they stock a very good selection.

Just my luck, the Leatherman I wanted was the only one not in the sale, typical & to cap it off the café had just closed. “Time to go straight home me thinks Raymondo” Still it’s been a cracking day which I’ve loved sharing with Jeannie. Thank you darling for getting involved and more so for putting up with my current “Obsession”.

Day Six - 6 Gold Post Boxes 

“I can’t bloody believe this”

“What now?”

“We missed one……….. ahhhhgggg”

“No, where?”

Unbelievable, I knew there would be 4 Gold Post Boxes for Sarah Storey and there are, NOW!

Downloading the photos and adding the title, name, gold medal, event,  by looking on Gold Post Box Finder site it jumped out at me. Sarah Storeys fourth Gold Post Box is in Maccelsfield just 7.3 miles from where Jeannie & I had been earlier. Unbelievable.

Note to self, do not just rely on Wikipedia for coordinates double check with Gold Post box Finder too! 

So folk’s that way yesterday, “so what’s next?” I here you ask. Well I’ve been looking at my Mapsource Map of locations and there are 6 main areas which I intend to cover.

1)      Wales –  7 remaining which will be done in a single 500 mile trip

2)      South West – 16 remaining which will be split into two trips possibly 3

3)      London & Surrounding Area – 24 ish which will be one big 2 day trip

4)      Lincoln, Norfolk, Peterborough – is another day

5)      Ashton & Nottingham - I will do with my Dad also called Ray which means a 120 years’ worth of Ray Walton’s on one bike. How fantastic will that be?

6)      Scotland – 890 mile round trip planned 1 possibly 2 days

7)      Sark – see below

8)      Isle of Man – I’m saving the best till last. More to come on this later.

Right Sark. What a performance, Flights to Guernsey £300+, chartered boat £3,000 madness!

So when will I be going? Tomorrow Thursday 13th September is the answer. Cost - £30 return. Now how fantastic is that? Seek and thou shalt find is my motto. Pool to Guernsey 8.30am returning 9.45pm £30 return on with Condorferries. Outstanding.

Transfer to Sark Late Bird Ticket £18.52 – “Job’s a Goodun”………………

Last but not least I’d like to thank Dave Avery for kindly allowing me to park Mr T up on his drive for the very long day’s trip to Sark via Guernsey.

Dave you are an absolute star, thank you so very much.

Right folks I need to do a bit of sorting out so until the next time, happy #GoldBoxJourney’s everyone.